CINCINNATI — Manager Bryan Price was talking about the amazingly bad stretch of injuries infecting his Cincinnati Reds the other day and talked about bad luck.
At the end of a lengthy discussion about it, he said, “Maybe we have to find the Shleprock in the organization, I don’t know, but there is some bad health mojo going on.”
There were about a dozen members of the media in the room and everybody had perplexed looks on their faces. Shleprock?
When the print media returned to the press box, everybody dove into Google to find out who or what is Shleprock Nobody knew.
Turns out Shlerpock was a character on the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm and The Flintstones. He had a first name. Badluck. Badluck Sheprock.
And that explained it all.
ONE OF THE best stories of the year, especially for the Reds, is the arrival of 28-year-old pitcher Tim Adleman. He made his major league debut last week in Pittsburgh, one of many Reds emergency starters so far this year. And he held the Pirates to two runs and three hits over six innings.
A couple of days later, Adleman was still in a fog over what he did and said, “It still hasn’t sunk in. But it is a cool feeling to know that you started for the Reds in a game. It is a dream come true to get that opportunity to be part of a winning effort.”
Adleman earned a second start and faces the Milwaukee Brewers Friday night. Was his goal to earn a second start?
“I’d be lying if I said that was my goal before I even stepped on the field for my first one,” he said. “I just wanted to attack the strike zone and keep my pitch-count down to give the team a chance to win.”
ADELEMAN ORIGINALLY WAS drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012 but was released and nobody called his cell phone. So rather than give up, he signed on with independent league teams for two years. His last teams in 2014 was the New Jersey Jackals of the Canadian-American Association, where meal money was $20 a day (It is $125 in the majors) and he rode buses for as long as eight hours. And that’s where the Reds found him.
“It was a long road, a long road, is the best phrase,” he said. “It was a lot of hard work with a lot of ups and downs. That makes it very gratifying to have an organization like the Reds believe in you and give you and give you an opportunity and to be able to take advantage of it.”
Did he ever think about giving it up and move on with his life. You bet.
“I thought about it a couple of times,” he said. “But I love the game and decided to keep going until there was nowhere else to go.”
WHOMEVER you talk to, be it management or players, about all the pitching prospects the Reds accumulated through trades of Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake and Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier, the top name is the one pitching name who hasn’t made it to Cincinnati yet. That’s Cody Reed, one of three pitchers who came from Kansas City with Brandon Finnegan and John for Johnny Cueto.
“We’re certainly excited about him,” said Price. “He has a 1.62 earned run average (and a 2-0 record at Class AAA Louisville.”
The 23-year-old left handed Reed missed two starts when he cut a finger on his pitching hand moving furniture.
“He has electric stuff,” said Price. “The game reports on him (three starts) are off the charts as far as his makeup and how he is able to compartmentalize games. He is a very mature kid, we saw that in spring training, and he is a guy we anticipate seeing here at some point this year.”
WHEN ZACK COZART is in the Reds lineup he bats leadoff — and is doing a masterful job — and Billy Hamilton is dropped to ninth. When Cozart takes a day off to give his surgically repaired knee some rest, Price puts Hamilton back in leadoff.
And that still is where Price wants Hamilton to be, although it is entirely up to Hamilton’s performance.
“It is ultimately where Billy would love to hit, I’m sure, and I’d love to have him up there,” said Price. “It is an area of heightened responsibility because that’s where you get the most at-bats.
“That’s a spot you’d like to have somebody who runs well, and nobody runs better than Billy,” he added. “But you want somebody who gets on base with some frequency (that’s not Hamilton). You put those two together and it’s magic.”
The magic has yet to arrive.